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The 1994 F1 Season
Michael Schumacher and Benetton team had dominated the first five races of the 1994 season. Schumacher showed his class despite being stuck in fifth gear in the Spanish GP. He drove around for two-thirds of the race stuck in gear and had to lose his first position to Damon Hill. He still finished second. So, in five races, Schumacher finished first in four and second in one.
Coming to the Canadian GP, the Benetton team continued to look sharp, and it was for the other teams to catch up. From a season supposed to be dominated by Senna and the Williams team, what a turn of events the season had had! Schumacher was progressively earning a name for himself, and in a track devoid of heroes, he offered a great prospect.
Around the Canadian GP, there were talks of Nigel Mansell returning to Formula 1. The return was expected to offer a fillip to the vacuum created from the absence of any erst-while F1 champs on track.
How the Benettons would fare against Nigel and Willaims was yet to be seen. But for now, they had their job cut out – winning the Canadian GP.
Will they be able to do it?
Let’s find out.
The 1994 Canadian GP Qualifying
Schumacher took his third consecutive pole in the Canadian GP. It was becoming customary for Schumacher to storm to the front, a place which Senna dominated all his life. Senna’s loss was now two races old, and not many could stop thinking what could have happened had he been there for the Canadian GP; that, though, was wishful thinking.
What was new was the Ferraris qualifying ahead of the Willaims. All through the season, the Benettons were pretty competitive and were taking the Williams head-on. All said and done the 1994 season was shaping to be a Williams vs Benetton contest. Just when the Benettons stole the Williams’ thunder, Ferraris left them speechless.
Williams were surprised and nobody could guess how the race would pan out. After all, the Ferraris had reliability issues, and the cars’ straight-line speed barring, it was hardly a competitive package. So, chances were that the race would still turn in Williams’ favour, but no one could rule out at least one Ferrari sticking through the entire race.
So, it now boiled down to the race-day action.
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The 1994 Canadian GP – Race Day
The Canadian GP started much the conventional way with Schumacher making a clean getaway. The only change in the top five was Coulthard getting ahead of Damon Hill. For a long time, both the drivers found it difficult to get past the Ferraris and then Coulthard allows Damon to get ahead of him.
Have a look at the start of the Canadian GP:
Schumacher’s start appeared almost like a jumpstart, but then it was clean since the car did not move ahead before the green light.
Schumacher dominated the race lapping everyone till the fourth position. All through the race, including the pitstops, Schumacher came out ahead of the rest of the cars. Such was his pace that he ended the race forty seconds ahead of Damon Hill and more than a minute clear of the two Ferraris. Rest of the cars were a lap down.
The Ferrari cars proved reliable in the race, and Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger finished third and fourth, respectively. For the Williams, though, the silver lining was Damon finding a way past the Ferraris and finishing second. That kept the competition alive despite Schumacher opening up a considerable lead. The other Williams finished fifth.
Schumacher had a dream run in the 1994 season. With the Canadian GP, Schumacher ended up winning five out of the six races. The charm that the Williams team had since 1992 was slowly fading, and the Benettons took the mantle, ironically, in a technologically lesser car.
Schumacher magic was being unleashed, and the fans had something to cheer in the otherwise sad year for Formula 1.
Back to the Pits
Despite the completion of just six races out of the total fourteen, Michael Schumacher was already appearing to be the title winner. The title seemed to be a foregone conclusion with the Benetton’s performance thus far and Williams’ inability to find their way past Schumacher.
Schumacher was the man to beat, and at the moment, no one was up to the task. The F1 fans, or at least, the German fans waited with bated breath to have a German F1 winner after so many years.
The Next Win..
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